WHO stresses on agile response capacities as South-East Asia confirms more coronavirus cases

New Delhi [India], Mar 5 (ANI): With India, Indonesia and Thailand confirming new cases of coronavirus, World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday urged the countries in its South-East Asia region to strengthen preparedness for all possible scenarios and ensure early containment measures.

"Top priority of countries should be to be ready to roll out speedy response to the first case, first cluster, and the first evidence of community transmission. Early containment measures can help countries stop transmission," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia region.

Singh added, "The risk of the new coronavirus is very high across the world. More cases can be expected. Rapidly identifying these cases, isolating them and following their contacts are important initiatives to help limit person to person transmission. The speed of our response is critical, which is only possible if we are prepared."

She also added that there are three priorities for country readiness - protecting health workers, engaging with communities and empowering them with timely and accurate information to enable them take protective measures, especially those at highest risk; and doing our best to contain epidemics in the most vulnerable countries.

Outlining preparedness and response measures and capacities in the WHO South-East Asia Region, Singh said: "WHO is assisting countries in preparedness and response planning, in coordination with other partner organization; as per updated global guidelines."

She added, "All member countries have rolled out a series of measures to prevent the disease and protect their nationals."

"Nine of the 11 countries now have capacities to test for COVID-19. WHO is supporting countries with supplies for laboratories. For countries unable to test, WHO is assisting in the shipping of their samples to global referral laboratories, three of them in the region - two in Thailand and one in India," WHO said in a release.

It added that nearly 300, 000 pieces of personal protective equipment comprising of caps, goggles, surgical masks, gloves gowns etc, have been supplied to member countries, and nearly 200, 000 more pieces are being procured. (ANI)